Meet the Jury: José Teodoro
February 6, 2019
José Teodoro is the author of several plays, including Mote, Cloudless, The Tourist and Slowly, an exchange is taking place. Teodoro’s play Steps was recently published in Playwrights Canada Press’ anthology Long Story Short. He has worked as story editor on acclaimed films including Hugh Gibson’s documentary feature The Stairs, winner of the TFCA’s 2016 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, and Lina Rodríguez’s Señoritas and This Time Tomorrow. Teodoro is currently developing a book of conversations with Swiss-Canadian filmmaker Peter Mettler entitled Nothing But Time. He lives in Toronto.
When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
From as far back as I can recall I was thinking about being an artist of some sort. The only other job titles that appealed to me were archaeologist and parapsychologist. When as a child I made a few queries into how one goes about becoming either of those things I discovered that the former involved a lot less high adventure than I imagined and the latter a lot less ghostbusting. Also: you had to attend university—for years! I could barely conceive of graduating high school. So “artist” stuck. The noise-rock band splintered early. The acting life was annoying. Writing, however implausibly, became the form that teased out the greatest number of my vague ambitions.
What are you working on now?
A few things:
- A tandem narrative performance piece for actors and musicians with a structure somewhat mimetic of music.
- A book of conversations with Peter Mettler, Swiss-Canadian film essayist and all-around lovely human.
- A very first-persony theatre piece about work, class and the myriad ways one can evade closure while also betraying their ostensible ideals.
Where is your favourite place to write?
Near a window, with sufficient space to pace.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I’m currently in the early stages of a new project concerning work, how we derive meaning from it, so this question is very much on my mind. My father was a merchant marine, a dance instructor, a carpenter. I’m thinking about his sense of vocation and purpose, how different it seems from my itinerary, which looks so much less dignified. I’ve had many jobs in my life. Some, such as my tenure as a singing telegram deliveryman, were absurd. I don’t imagine myself not writing, but there are moments I fantasize assuming my father’s first profession, the long bouts of travel, the vigilance with regards to weather, the physical exhaustion. If only I could swim!
What is your favourite childhood book?
Probably Aiden Chambers’ Ghosts and Hauntings. Which haunted me, and likely set a template for some of my own narratives. I took it out of my elementary school library at least a dozen times and eventually failed to return it altogether. My apologies to Collingwood Elementary, for this and other disappointments.
Which piece of writing are you most proud of and why?
I’m usually convinced that whatever I’m working on now must be the best thing I’ve done. Until then the next thing comes along… However, I wrote a play many years ago, Cloudless, which has yet to receive full production. It was my first play after a lengthy break from theatre and prompted by a reassessment of what theatre can do, by a reaffirmation of what keeps me coming back to theatre: intimacy. It was also the beginning of a phase of work that poached scattered events from my life and those around me and allowed me to feel that certainly wasted years were perhaps not wasted after all. So Cloudless, a kind of orphan, holds a special place in my heart.
What are you most looking forward to being a juror for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize?
- Conversations with my co-jurors
- Changing my mind